160 days later and still no deal by Jacob Vitali

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Jacob E. Vitali

Today marks 160 days since the Massachusetts State College Association (MSCA) has had a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The MSCA is the union which represents faculty and librarians at MCLA, in addition to the nine other Massachusetts state colleges.

Since June, the MSCA has been negotiating a new CBA with the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE). On Nov. 13, 2017, Graziana Ramsden, president of MCLA’s MSCA chapter, forwarded an email to faculty members from MSCA President C.J. O’Donnell stating that there had been 16 formal negotiation sessions with the BHE and more were expected.

O’Donnell’s email also detailed the issues preventing a deal, including across-the-board raises for fulltime and part-time faculty. The current proposal from the BHE gives full time faculty a one percent increase in the first year, with an additional one percent on July 1, 2017 if state revenues reach $27.072 billion in fiscal year 2018 and increases of 2 percent in the second and third years of the contract.

The MSCA believes that the proposed pay increases are not realistic. “The Board of Higher Education (BHE) has made the MSCA a poor financial offer, which includes salary increases that are significantly lower than the projected cost of living for the next three years,” said Ramsden in her Letter to the Editor last week.

Instead, the MSCA would like to see yearly raises of 3.5 percent with an additional $1,000 base to offset insurance costs for full time faculty and increases of 16 percent for adjuncts in year one of the contract, 11 percent in year two, and 10.5 percent in year three.

Other concerns are centered around benefits and adjunct professors. The MSCA claims that college presidents initially wanted the option for 100 percent of classes to be taught by adjunct professors. However, they have since backed off and are now asking to increase the cap on adjuncts from 15 percent to 25 percent. According to O’Donnell, “they propose the computation be aggregated among all departments with six or more full-time faculty (the cap would be university-wide, not by department).”

Adjunct professors are considered part-time faculty and do not receive benefits, nor are they on the tenure track. They are only hired for one semester at a time, something the MSCA would like to see changed to one year.

The MSCA has also expressed opposition to the hiring of academic administrators with tenure. In their eyes, it is a threat to tenure for faculty members because they have seen an increase in temporary, full-time faculty who are not on the tenure track.

“The presidents want to allow full-time temporary faculty and librarians to be hired from two years to five years.  More than 50 percent of the full-time hires in the last four fall semesters were temporary, non-tenure-track hires,” said O’Donnell.

Despite a lack of progress, faculty members have continued showing up to work due to the “Evergreen Clause” which allows them to continue working under the previous CBA.

However, students may have noticed fewer faculty members involved on campus. Ramsden addressed this in her Letter to the Editor last week.

“We have not ‘checked out’ of MCLA’s activities because of indolence or a temper tantrum. We are adopting a strategy called Work to Rule, which means we are adhering strictly to the letter of the (expired) Collective Bargaining Agreement in hopes for a timely settlement of an overdue contract.”

Jacob Vitali goes more in depth with faculty member and president of the chapter here at MCLA right here